Together We Grow expanding with new center, executive director at CSU

Kristin Kirkpatrick will serve as the executive director of the TWG Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture

Kristin Kirkpatrick will serve as the executive director of the TWG Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture. 

Together We Grow (TWG), a consortium of some of the world’s largest agribusiness interests focused on building a skilled, diverse and inclusive agricultural workforce, is building an educational and research center at Colorado State University.

TWG’s Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture will be headquartered at the CSU Campus at the redeveloped National Western Center in Denver. The Center will be led by newly named executive director Kristin Kirkpatrick, a leader in promoting food literacy education in schools nationwide, and will focus on building a more diversified pipeline of talent for the agricultural industry.

“Our industry has a unique challenge and opportunity to nourish the world, and diversity and inclusion are the proven keys to the success we need to address this challenge,” says Michael D’Ambrose, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), who founded the TWG consortium. “Together We Grow gives us a platform to freely and openly share best practices across the industry and demonstrate the power of an aligned group committed to taking innovative industry-wide actions. The creation of TWG’s Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture will help us to take these efforts to the next level, and we are excited that CSU and Kristin have stepped in to lead the way forward.”

Kirkpatrick most recently directed the Colorado regional office of the national nonprofit, Big Green, which integrates food literacy education into school curriculum across the country.

“Kristin’s background in public health, policy advocacy and community planning make her an exceptional candidate to lead this exciting new partnership,” D’Ambrose says. “She is passionate in her belief that agriculture is our future, and creating more opportunities for more people in agriculture means a more secure future for all of us.”

Kirkpatrick also has been an instructor with the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU and served as chief of wellness planning for Bellisimo Development, which created the landmark Bucking Horse and the Jessup Farm developments in Fort Collins. She earned a bachelor’s in Health and Exercise Science from Colorado State and a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado.

“The Colorado State University System and our excellent College of Agricultural Sciences at CSU in Fort Collins are delighted for the opportunity to work with Kristin and Together We Grow on this important new center,” says CSU System Executive Vice Chancellor Amy Parsons. “We all share the same goal: to create awareness and opportunities for more people to do the important work of feeding our world.”

“Diverse perspectives and experiences are how we innovate quickly to solve some of the world's most pressing global challenges. TWG’s Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture will leverage and embrace these perspectives to shape our industry and future leaders,” says consortium member Melissa Harper, senior vice president of Global Talent & Inclusion, Bayer Corporation.

Hosting the Center is a great investment for the university system, Parsons says, given the opportunities it creates for more students to pursue productive agribusiness careers and the chance for CSU faculty to connect with industry in more innovative ways. CSU System will fund Kirkpatrick’s salary and provide space for the headquarters, and TWG will provide operational funds for the center. The office will be located at the CSU Campus at the National Western Center, slated to break ground in 2020 with a 2022 completion date. 

As an initial offering of the Center, Kirkpatrick will present on a panel discussing the challenges and opportunities on the journey of creating diverse, equitable and inclusive cultures, at the CSU Ag Innovation Summit on the CSU campus in Fort Collins on Dec. 5-6.

“CSU and Together We Grow share a strong commitment to expanding opportunities and attracting more people from all walks of life into the agricultural workforce,” says Dr. Tony Frank, chancellor of the CSU System. “We need a diverse, inclusive and well-prepared workforce to confront the complex challenges of global hunger and food insecurity. Through this partnership, we aim to help more people from diverse backgrounds see their own future as leaders in agriculture.”

Together We Grow is an agribusiness consortium with more than 20 members, including major agricultural commodities companies, educational institutions, government agencies and others committed to improving and expanding diversity in agribusiness. The consortium sponsors research and provides a platform to share best practices for building future workforce capacity. 

The CSU Campus at the National Western Center will focus on research and educational programming in the areas of food, water and human and animal health within its three buildings: the CSU Water Building, CSU Animal Health Complex and CSU Food and Agriculture Center. 

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